“How well do you know your genealogy, Simon?”
Simon crouched beside a deteriorating stone sarcophagus and squinted to read the inscription by torchlight. “Well enough to know that this chap isn’t a part of it. We have no Vaileen ancestry postdating the first century.”
“’Velasquez’ isn’t necessarily a Vaileen surname,” said Seymour. “He could have been from the far south of Dukhanland.”
“Regardless of his origin, I do not recall happening across his name during the many hours in which I was forced to pore over my lineage, so your observation, Seymour, is of no consequence.”
“What aboot Weldon?” Seoc asked, rubbing the dust from the inscription marking another nearby tomb. “Any Weldons?”
“Listen,” said Simon. “Let us limit our inquiries to variations of Edmund, Mantoux, Simeon, and Schwarz, shall we? In fact, strike the Mantouxes. I think they entered the family after we had already sold the castle.”
They plodded along deeper into the catacombs, pausing briefly at each sepulcher to look for an Edmund, a Simeon or a Schwarz. Every tomb they encountered was older than the last.
“Look!” Seoc exclaimed suddenly.
“What? Have you found an Edmund?”
“No. But I foond a MacQuarrie.”
They gathered around the sarcophagus in question. The stonework was crumbling, but the engraving was still legible. There was the name, Alexander Brutus MacQuarrie, and a marking that looked like a rose inscribed within a pentagram. Like all of the others, this grave bore no dates.
Seymour brushed clean the etched symbol with his hand. “This mark was on several of the tombs we have already inspected. And unless I’m greatly mistaken, some variation of it is embedded in the floor of the library.”
“I knew it looked familiar,” Seoc said.
“The rose…brier rose is the symbol of the Kingdom of Murkintsen…the pentagram connotes magic…is this the seal of the Alt-Mage of Murkintsen?”
“I ha’e never seen my uncle use it. He always stamps his envelopes wi’ the MacQuarrie family crest.”
“A badger and a sun.”
Simon snorted. “How very intimidating.”
“What?” Seoc demanded. “Badgers can be fearsome beasties if you meddle with them. An’ what, may I ask, is the Edmund mascot? A fierce lion? A deadly hawk?”
“A wild boar.”
“Weel, that’s fitting, isn’t it? For a pack o’ pigheaded, bloodthirsty gluttons like you?”
Simon made a pair of tusks with his index fingers and pretended to gore Seoc in the side.
“Well,” said Seymour, ignoring them. “If the rose and the pentagram does indeed mark the burial places of the Alt-Mages, then we haven’t even reached any Edmund ancestors yet. We ought to press onward.”